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La Trappe Quad Clone 1.0

The finished beer
I just acquired a Brewie+ automated brewing system. After I've gotten a few brews under my belt with it, I plan to do a compare-and-contrast post between iMake's The Grainfather, PicoBrew's Zymatic, and the Brewie+.

For now, I'm working out how to use it properly. I can tell you already that the Brewie+ has a number of advantages over the Zymatic: up to 5 gallon batch size, larger grain bills, direct connection to your water supply, ability to brew offline, ability to sparge the grain, and automated wort chilling. It's also much quieter.

On the other hand, recipe editing must be done on the device's touchscreen (until they provide you with access to their Android or iOS app, which isn't freely available online), and you need to do mash and sparge water calculations yourself.

I'd been thinking about brewing a purported clone recipe for La Trappe Quadrupel. This is a really delicious Belgian Trappist beer, and one that I enjoy drinking. I just don't find it everywhere. If the purported recipe was close to the real beer, I'd be happy. This seemed like a good test for the Brewie+.

The Brewie running a test brew with water only


5 pounds Dingeman Pilsen Malt
3 pounds and 2 ounces of 2-row Pale Malt
1 pound Corn Sugar
8 ounces Crystal 60L Malt
2 ounces Aromatic Malt
2 ounces Victory Malt (substituting for Biscuit, which I was out of)
1/2 tsp. crushed Coriander
1/4 tsp. bitter orange peel
1/2 tsp. bitter orange peel
0.80 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (60 min.)
0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (20 min.)
0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (5 min.)
1/8 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 package Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity Yeast
3.3 gallons of mash water
1.4 gallons of sparge water

BeerSmith estimated the qualities of this beer as:
  • BJCP Style: 26.D Belgian Dark Strong Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was 2.25 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.105 SG estimated, 1.094 SG actual
  • Final Gravity: 1.012 estimated
  • IBUs: 29.6
  • ABV: 10.9%
  • SRM: 13.7
Mash Schedule

I decided to run a long mash to see if I could coax a really high efficiency out of the machine. The mash schedule used was:
  • Dough In at 102F for 15 minutes
  • Ferulic Acid Rest at 113F for 15 minutes
  • Beta Glucan Rest at 120F for 15 minutes
  • Mash Step 1 at 148F for 30 minutes
  • Mash Step 2 at 158F for 60 minutes
  • Mash Out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water
Brewie estimated that the entire brewing process would take 7 hours to complete, given that. This seemed to be an accurate estimate. (In retrospect, if I was doing this again, I'd leave out the Dough In and first mash step at 148F.) 

Boil Schedule

Since the recipe included Pilsner malt, it seemed worthwhile to have a longer boil to drive off any DMS the malt produced. In addition, this would help concentrate the wort if gravity came up low. I could always dilute with distilled water if it came out high.

The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: 0.80 ounces Styrian Goldings
  • 20 minutes: 0.60 ounces Styrian Goldings, plus yeast nutrient, 1/8 tsp. coriander, and 1/2 tsp. bitter orange peel
  • 5 minutes: 0.60 ounces Styrian Goldings, plus 1/8 tsp. coriander and 1/4 tsp. bitter orange peel
At the end of the brewing process, I asked Brewie to chill the beer to 66F, which is about 9F higher than the tap water in my location. (Brewie managed this with the wort in the boiling compartment, but after pumping out wort from some other parts of the device that were not subject to chilling, the temperature in the fermenter worked out to 73F.)

Fermentation Schedule

The recipe I used called for Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast. This is purported to be the Westmalle yeast strain. Wyeast recommends a temperature range of 64-78F for fermentation, reports medium flocculation, and suggests that attenuation will be in the range of 74-78%. Online forums and reviews suggest that the yeast will be mostly dormant for about 12 hours, then will go crazy enough that a blow-off tube could be needed. It's said to generate a lot of sulfur and needs time to clean that up after fermentation. (I happened to notice a sulfur smell when I opened the smack pack, so I believe that.) It's said that the yeast will generate boozy flavors if it ferments above 74F. Denny Conn in one forum post said that he ferments this yeast at 63F for 4-5 days and then raises the temperatures after that to allow it to finish out.

Given all this, my plan will be:
  • Days 1-5: Start at 64F, raising 1F per day until fermentation slows
  • Days 6-14: Raise to 78F to allow it to finish out
After that, I'll cold-crash it for 3-4 days and then bottle.

Post-Brew Notes

11/30/2018: The volume for this batch came out at 2.25 gallons after I instructed the Brewie to do a full drain including sediment. I suspect the extended boil is partially responsible for the lower volume. The gravity should have come out about 11 points higher according to the calculations I ran before brewing, but perhaps the Brewie isn't as efficient as it's estimated to be. Any time you use a new brewing setup there are always adjustments to be made to the process and calculations. A few more batches and I'll hopefully be able to dial it in and get closer to my expected gravity and volume figures. Brewhouse efficiency on this batch, according to BeerSmith, was 51.4%.

12/1/2018: The gravity has dropped to 1.088 SG but the temperature has held at 64F. That's around 4.6% attenuation, which is not surprising. This yeast is known as a slow starter and it's being held at the low end of its temperature range, so I don't expect major drops in gravity for a while yet.

12/2/2018: The gravity is now down to 1.052 SG. I bumped the temperature up to 65F. This represents approximately 43% attenuation.

12/3/2018: Gravity is now 1.041 SG. I've bumped the temperature up to 67F. That's 54% attenuation and an estimated ABV of 7.76%.

12/4/2018: Gravity is now 1.032 SG, the temperature has been bumped up to 71F. That's 65,6% attenuation and 8% ABV.

12/5/2017: Gravity is now 1.022 SG, and the temperature has been raised to 75F. That's 77.4% attenuation and 9.45% ABV.

12/6/2018: Gravity is now 1.018 SG, and the temperature is up to 76F to encourage the yeast to finish up.

12/8/2018: Gravity is down to 1.014 SG, with temperature holding at 76F. According to Brewer's Friend, that represents attenuation of 84% and an ABV of 11.4%.

The real La Trappe Quadrupel is 10% ABV, has a color of 36 EBC (approximately 18.3 SRM), and a bitterness of 22 IBUs. This version has a color of 13.7 SRM (estimated), bitterness of 29.6 IBUs, and ABV of 11.28%. This one, most likely is going to be a bit lighter-colored, more bitter, and more alcoholic. The real recipe (per the La Trappe web site) contains Munich, Pale, Caramel, and Roasted barley malt, glucose, hops, and yeast. If this doesn't turn out particularly well, it will be time to try mimicking their recipe (rather than relying on this one, which was published somewhere online).

12/9/2018: Gravity is reading 1.015 today, which seems to suggest that fermentation has slowed or stopped.

12/10/2018: Gravity is still 1.015 SG.

12/12/2018: Gravity has held at 1.015 SG now for about 5 days. I think it's safe to say we've hit the final gravity for this batch and will need to bottle the beer soon.

12/31/2018: The beer has been bottled for a couple of weeks now, but has yet to carbonate. I've tried a trick that has served me well in the past (turning the bottles upside down one day, then right side up the next) but it hasn't changed things. I'll have to try another trick if there's no carbonation in another week or so... rehydrating some dry wine yeast, bringing it to krausen, and injecting some into each bottle with some additional priming sugar.

1/6/2019: I rehydrated some CBC-1 bottle conditioning yeast and added some leftover Quadrupel wort to it along with a pinch of yeast nutrient. When it began to krausen, I uncapped a bottle, dropped two small carbonation tablets into it, and a pipette full of yeast slurry. In the past, I've been successful getting beers to carbonate with this approach, provided I keep the yeast in suspension by moving it around every couple of days (inverting the bottles and standing them back up).

1/12/2019: I chilled and poured a bottle of the beer tonight (see photo at the top of the post). Thankfully, the CBC-1 yeast came through and has carbonated the beer - though not quite to where I want it yet. I'm hopeful with time it'll get there.

1/17/2019: To ensure that the yeast finishes up the carbonation, tonight I flipped each bottle upside down and agitated it to get the yeast back into suspension. Hopefully when I do my next taste test on Saturday it will be properly carbonated.


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